India likely to continue with experiments

India is likely to continue to experiment and test their young guns as they go into the inconsequential sixth cricket one-dayer against Sri Lanka.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:53 IST
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Despite their winning streak being snapped in Ahmedabad, India is likely to continue to experiment and test their young guns as they go into the inconsequential sixth cricket one-dayer against Sri Lanka. The hosts have already drawn some positives from their loss in Ahmedabad and it appears unlikely that they will deviate from their stated policy of providing rookies as many opportunities as possible in the run-up to the 2007 World Cup. Key players rested The hosts rested key players, including Sachin Tendulkar, in the last match but both the captain and coach asserted after the loss that the performance of the newcomers was heartening and the benefits for Indian cricket would come in the long run. "Look, we need to balance between winning and experimenting ... Had we won with this young side, the benefit for Indian cricket in the next 12-18 months would have been huge," Chappell had said in Ahmedabad. "You can't get that experience unless you let them (the youngsters) make mistakes. We must be prepared to take that risk, so that we give ourselves a chance of winning the World Cup 2007," he added. Dravid said that with the series clinched, the remaining matches were a chance to try out the youngsters. "It was a chance to look at the younger players we have. We had won the series already, and it is not often that we get such opportunities. Now that we have them, we have to make use of them. It will strengthen the squad in the long term," Dravid said. Focus on youngsters The focus then would be on the likes of Vikram Rajvir Singh who has been included in the team for the last two matches. The Punjab right arm pacer has already had rave reviews following his impressive show in the Challenger Series, but that kind of media exposure might have placed an unnecessary burden on the 21-year-old. Another change in the squad of 15 was the inclusion of Mohammad Kaif who was out of action since the Challenger Series with a hamstring injury. It remains to be seen who makes way for him. Tendulkar, who had a medical review at a leading hospital in Ahmedabad before departing for Rajkot, could make his return. The only issue that would irk the Indians would be the lack of runs from the blade of Yuvraj Singh. If not for his own sake, the Punjab left-hander would be keen to come good to silence comments over his inconsistency. On the other hand, Marvan Atapattu's men would look to ride on the momentum following the Ahmedabad win. Their reputation as the world's second best side after Australia took a knocking with four consecutive defeats which saw them slip to number four on the ICC ODI team table. But Sri Lanka's successful chase of a daunting target of 286 in Motera proved their rise to the status of contenders to the throne was no fluke. Now that they have avoided further relegation in rankings with the Sunday win, Sri Lanka would try and go all out to grab the remaining two games. The pitch at Madhav Rao Scindia ground promised loads of runs. Teams: India: Rahul Dravid (captain), Virender Sehwag (vice-captain), Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Mohammad Kaif, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Murali Kartik, Harbhajan Singh, Ajit Agarkar, Irfan Pathan, Rudra Pratap Singh, Vikram Rajveer Singh, Gautam Gambhir and S Sreesanth. Sri Lanka: Marvan Atapattu (captain), Mahela Jayawardene (vice-captain), Kumar Sangakkara, Sanath Jayasuriya, Tillekeratne Dilshan, Russel Arnold, Farveez Maharoof, Chaminda Vaas, Muttiah Muralitharan, Nuwan Zoysa, Dilhara Fernando, Dilhara Lokuhettige, Upul Tharanga and Thilan Samaraweera. (PTI)